12 in 2012

By Jennifer Hogan

On this rare date of 12/12/12, we thought it would be fitting to launch a new tradition at the University of Michigan-Flint, and name the top 12 people (and/or groups of people) of the year.

There are countless good, hard-working people who are part of our campus community. This was not an easy list to create. In fact, we are almost certain that we will hear about amazing people who are not on this list. We salute every person and group who in their own ways are making our university a place that represents excellence.

The number 12 has a great significance in many cultures. In western tradition, it is commonly associated with completeness and seen as a perfect and harmonious unit. As such, it has found its way into religion (e.g. the 12 apostles), mythology (e.g. the 12 gods of Olympus), and everyday life (e.g. 12 hours on a modern clock face).

In that spirit, we present the 12 of UM-Flint for 2012 in no particular order.

David & Francine Zick with Chancellor Person 1. Alumnus David Zick – A Promise Kept

David Zick is a man of his word. As a Physics student at UM-Flint in the early 1970’s, he received a scholarship that made his education possible. In true pay-it-forward-fashion, Zick kept the promise he made to himself to help others achieve their educational goals. David and his wife Francine have generously given to the university over the years. In 2012, their gift helped to create the Zick Active Learning Classroom which ushered in the remodeling era for the Murchie Science Building. Thousands of students will benefit from his selfless actions.

Professor Richard Hill-Rowley2. Professor Richard Hill-Rowley, Ph.D. – Urban Alternatives House

You can call Professor Richard Hill-Rowley a lot of things, but the word that best describes him is persistent. Professor Hill-Rowley has worked for years to make the dream of an Urban Alternatives House a reality. For over five years, Professor Rowley has worked on his vision of taking an abandoned home and turning it into a functioning laboratory for students studying the art and science of sustainable urban living. Through plenty of delays, a tragic fire, and lots of paperwork, Professor Hill-Rowley finally saw his vision become his legacy with the remodeling and construction of the brand new Urban Alternatives House in the Cultural Center Neighborhood on Crapo Street in Flint. Thank you Professor Hill-Rowley for never giving up on your dream.

Jessie Hurse3. Jessie Hurse – Big Guy, Bigger Heart

Jessie Hurse grew up on the UM-Flint campus, coming here as a student and completing his undergraduate degree, then getting a job working with students in Student Affairs. Jessie has always been a strong role model for students, but this year he really went all out. In honor of his beloved mother who passed away suddenly, Jessie decided to make Thanksgiving a little easier for people in need in the community. He used his own money as well as launching a fundraising drive to buy turkey day dinners. His example encouraged an army of students to help him on distribution day, as hundreds of people who needed help showed up to pick up dinner. Of all the life lessons learned on campus on a daily basis, Jessie’s kindness is hard to forget.

DPS Touch a Truck Event4. Chief Raymond Hall – Shifting the Public Safety Paradigm

Chief Ray Hall is new to UM-Flint, having served as police captain of the City of Lansing for many years. He is a friendly guy with a lot of ideas that stray from the traditional ways we think about the issues of public safety. From putting officers on bike patrol to outfitting students safety employees in bright yellow uniforms to encouraging people to stop by for Pop with a Cop in UCEN, Chief Hall is always thinking about ways to reach out to people. But Chief Hall really made his mark known with the community Touch a Truck event in September. Chief Hall is an advocate for public outreach, and this event brought hundreds of people, mostly families, to campus to interact with law enforcement officials from across the county. Kids got up close and personal with all sorts of emergency vehicles including fire and police trucks as well as the U-M Medical Helicopter. In the words of one six-year-old attendee, “It was pretty cool.”

Peggy Kahn and Aimi Moss5. Peggy Kahn and Aimi Moss – The Common Read Founders

The Common Read is a deceptively simple concept: select a book for the campus to collectively read and then discuss. The complexity of the Common Read is in its implementation. Professor Peggy Kahn and Aimi Moss, Director of Academic Advising and Career Services are undaunted by the work that is required to not only create but execute a successful Common Read. Already in its second year, the Common Read has become a series of memorable events. In 2012 alone, the author Edwidge Danticat came to campus to discuss her book, Brother, I’m Dying, and several other events were held in connection with the second selection, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Professor Kahn even conducted sessions for all freshmen at orientation to prepare them for reading at a university level. The book for 2013 has already been chosen, and work begins again on creating programming. The leadership of Professor Kahn and Ms. Moss on this project is outstanding.

UM-Flint Entrepreneurs Society6. UM-Flint Entrepreneurs Society – Habitat for Humanity Work Live House

The University of Michigan-Flint Entrepreneurs Society and Genesee County Habitat for Humanity will unveil the first Work/Live Home in the nation on June 9, 2012. The Work/Live home contains both residential and commercial space, and provides the resident both affordable housing and an opportunity to become a self-sufficient small business owner. The Work/Live concept came to fruition through a partnership with Genesee County Habitat for Humanity and the University of Michigan-Flint Entrepreneurs Society, a 109 member academic student organization, led by senior management students Gannon O’Reilly and Brooke Dziurman and founded by Entrepreneur in Residence and Lecturer, Michael Witt, Ph.D. This group along with Habitat for Humanity conceptualized the idea for a brand new component to Habitat’s existing framework and the Work/Live model was born. The partnership’s mutual goal became to identify potential entrepreneurs interested in developing for-profit businesses and integrating them into a Habitat for Humanity home. There are six Work/Live Homes scheduled to be built in Flint over the next two years. The Work/Live model has received attention from Habitat for Humanity International, interested in adopting the concept as a nationwide model.

UM-Flint Chemistry Club7. UM-Flint Chemistry Club – Award Winning Formula of Students & Faculty

The University of Michigan-Flint Chemistry Club has a long history of success, and in 2012, this student club again achieved national recognition. The club won the American Chemical Society’s Outstanding award, making it for the fourth time (this was the third consecutive year), and the 11th ACS recognition since 2002.The ACS recognizes successful student chapters for conducting exceptional programs and activities during the academic year. Awards are given in three categories: outstanding, commendable, and honorable mention. Professor Jessica Tischler and Laboratory Supervisor Monique Wilhelm are the advisors of this amazing group. The Club will travel to New Orleans in April to pick up their award. We’re sure there will be more awards in the future.

PT Heart8. Physical Therapy Students – PT Heart

The name PTHEART is an acronym for Physical Therapy, Health, Education, and Rehabilitation Treatment. It is a unique student-led organization and the only one on campus to be sponsored by the university. In 2012, the group launched a pro bono clinic to provide physical therapy and health education to the uninsured and underinsured in Genesee County. It focuses on those adults who would otherwise not have access to these services. According to government statistics, Genesee County has a large number of uninsured residents, more than 13%. It also has a higher mortality rate for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke compared to the rest of the state and nation. A final statistic for establishing a pro bono clinic comes from the 2007 U.S. Census that indicated that in Genesee County nearly 122,000 individuals were classified as 200% below the poverty level. Assistant Clinical Professor Edgar Torres is the faculty advisor to the organization. He said the response from other community organizations to PTHEART has been very positive. Torres says, “With PTHEART we wanted to empower our students to create this structure and run with it.”

Philosophy Professor Stevens Wandmacher at IINN9. Philosophy Department – The Center for Cognition and Neuroethics

A new, thoroughly original center was formed in 2012 between the The University of Michigan-Flint Philosophy Department and Flint’s Insight Institute for Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN). These two entities partnered to create Michigan’s only center charged with exploring the intersections of mind, medicine, and morality: The Center for Cognition and Neuroethics. Flint neurosurgeon Jawad A. Shah, M.D. approached UM-Flint’s Philosophy Department with the seed of the idea. Shaw said, “The entire program was a part of a vision to try to address and understand issues of the mind and the brain in a way that was not being fully addressed anywhere else. The idea was to create a center that’s unique, that brings together physicians, medical people, clinicians, neuroscientists, but also not to forgot the philosophers—who are the beginning of any type of a science.” Since the Center launched, UM-Flint faculty and students work along side brain surgeons on issues of the mind in a brand new facility next to Diplomat Pharmacy. Students have the opportunity to do research while learning first hand from both doctors and philosophers alike.

David Arnould10. David Arnould – Technology Bird Man

David Arnould is an ITS employee and UM-Flint alum. He is a quiet person who never stops working, preferring to remain behind the scenes. Unfailingly polite, David has helped with myriad projects at the university, from helping people with computer problems to large scale community projects. Over the years, David has become an invaluable resource on campus, particularly to the community and in 2012, he really went above and beyond. During Back to the Bricks David was an integral part of helping ABC 12 broadcast Back to the Bricks, and his quick thinking saved their show from an on-air technical disaster. David was also important to providing a key part of the security measures for keeping crime low during both Back to the Bricks and the Crim. David helped to set up a network of cameras around town for police to use as they monitored activities from the Incident Command Center during both Back to the Bricks and the Crim. This allowed police to contact officers in the field to help deal with any potential criminal activity. He is a nice guy, hard worker, and exactly the type of person that helps to make our university a community leader. And one more thing about David…he also works with the DNR as they care for the falcons on the Northbank Center. He really cares about those birds!

Shelly Spivak & Tracie Currie11. Shelly Spivak & Tracie Currie – Power of Spoken Word

Faculty member Shelly Spivak has worked for years within the juvenile justice system in Genesee County. She has seen first-hand the challenges these children and their families face as they try to keep their lives intact. Ms. Spivak is a creative thinker, looking for ways to reach out to troubled youth in the community. That led her to team up with Professor Tracie Currie. Professor Currie is a master of the art of Spoken Word. Her performances are nothing short of spellbinding. In her classes where she teaches the Spoken Word art form, Professor Currie inspires students to leave their inhibitions behind and to speak not just from the heart but from the soul. In 2012, these two women, along with two former students J.T. Thigpen and Steve Hull, teamed up to give a voice to the voiceless kids of the Genesee County juvenile detention center.

UM-Flint International Students12. International Students – Faces of UM-Flint’s Future

Just a few short years ago, there were a handful of international students on the UM-Flint campus. Patriece Campbell, Assistant Director of the International Center, was one of those few pioneering students. With Patriece’s insight, experience, and leadership, she has helped the campus grow its small international student population to a fast-growing 300+ group of energetic, engaging students. These students hail from over 30 countries around the globe, infusing the campus with new perspectives that make for a positive experience for all students. In 2012, the growth of the international student population lead campus enrollment, and we expect the trend to continue for years to come.


Pillar Do you know a difference-maker that we have overlooked?

Do you have someone or some group in mind for our “13 in 2013” installment?

Maybe you just have a good idea for a future Pillars story?

Send them our way using the Pillars submission form.

Thanks and see you in 2013!